YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — A Japanese long-distance telephone service provider for some military bases in Japan has lowered its international calling rates to the United States and other countries.

KDDI Corp. dropped its rates by as much as 16 cents per minute, officials said.

Some of the larger decreases include Thailand from about 33 cents to 17 cents per minute, the Philippines from 24 cents to 14 cents, and South Korea from 15 cents to 9 cents, based on the yen rate.

International calls from Japan to the United States dropped from about 6 cents to 5 cents, officials said. That means a 60-minute call to the States that cost about $3.60 now costs about $3.

The rate changes apply to anyone making international calls from Yokota Air Base, Misawa Air Base, Camp Zama and Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station.

The changes went into effect Aug. 1 at Yokota, and Sept. 1 at the other mainland Japan bases, officials said.

Similar rate adjustments are planned for U.S. military bases on Okinawa, but an implementation date has not been scheduled, said Shinsuke Kurita, Tokyo regional sales department managing director for KDDI Okinawa Corp.

At Yokota, the rate change affects anyone with a 225 or 227 telephone prefix, said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Hayes of the base Telephone Customer Service center.

KDDI cut some of its international calling rates “to improve customer service,” Kurita said.

In recent years, the company has cut down operating costs, he said, and it is passing those savings to the customer.

The lower international call rates apply only to U.S. military bases in Japan — a big customer for KDDI Okinawa, Kurita said.

Kurita also noted that the company has also changed its time increments from six seconds to one second, meaning customers will be charged to the second, not rounded to six-second increments as was done previously.

While some calling rates decreased, some remained unchanged.

For example, a call from Japan to Germany still costs 33 cents a minute, and a call from Japan to the United Kingdom costs 15 cents a minute.

Rates to the Middle East didn’t budge, either.

It costs about 77 cents a minute to call Afghanistan, Qatar and Iraq.

KDDI’s domestic call rates also dropped slightly, Kurita said.

Hana Kusumoto contributed to this story.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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